ICC names high-profile suspects in Kenya's killing spree

15th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

The International Criminal Court Wednesday accused six Kenyans, including the son of the nation's founder Jomo Kenyatta, of masterminding the 2007-08 post-election violence that claimed 1,500 lives.

The Hague-based court took charge of trying key suspects in connection with the country's worst violence since independence in 1963, after Nairobi last year failed to set up a tribunal of its own in line with agreements that ended the chaos.

Those subpeonaed include Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, sacked education minister William Ruto -- a declared candidate for the 2012 presidential election, and former police chief Mohammed Hussein Ali.

The others are Francis Muthaura, the head of Kenya's public service, Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey and radio executive Joshua arap Sang.

"Today at 11.58 the office of the prosecutor filed its document presenting the results of its investigation in the last eight months for the crimes commited in Kenya," the court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told a press conference

He said the six including Kenyatta and Ruto "are the most responsible, but of course there are many others... We concentrate on the most responsible... of course, Kenya can decide to prosecute more.

"The post election period of 2007-2008 was one of the most violent periods of the nation's history," the prosecutor, a dogged pursuer of rights offenders, said.

"These were not just crimes against innocent Kenyans," he said. "They were crimes against humanity as a whole. By breaking the cycle of impunity for massive crimes, victims and their families can have justice. And Kenyans can pave the way to peaceful elections in 2012."

The ICC said the carnage left more than 1, 100 people dead, 3,500 injured and up to 600, 000 forcibly displaced.

"During 30 days of violence, there were hundreds of rapes, possibly more, and over 100, 000 properties were destroyed in six of Kenya's eight provinces."

Moreno-Ocampo accused Ruto of "preparing a criminal plan to attack ... the Party of National Unity," and inciting violence.

"They immediately... began to attack," he said.

The prosecutors previously indicated that the suspects were from or linked to the two sides of Kenya's coalition government, formed after a contested presidential election and the ensuing bloodbath.

"The judges of Pre-Trial Chamber II will now review the evidence. If they determine that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the six persons named committed the alleged crimes, they will decide on the most appropriate way to ensure their appearance in Court. The Prosecution has requested Summonses to Appear," a statement said.

Under an internationally brokered peace deal, President Mwai Kibaki's Party of National Unity shares power with and Prime Minister Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Party.

The ICC, which started operating in the Hague in 2002, is the world's only independent, permanent tribunal with the jurisdiction to try allegations of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Kenya was plunged into violence after the December 27, 2007 general elections in which the then opposition chief Odinga accused Kibaki of having rigged his re-election.

What began as political riots soon turned into ethnic killings targeting Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe.

They launched reprisal attacks in which homes were torched, people hacked to death and some 300,000 forced to flee their homes.

© 2010 AFP

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